Linebacker Shannon Walsh Prepared for the Big Game

Senior linebacker Shannon Walsh (38) is Vista Murrieta's leading tackler this season. Vista Murrieta High School football heads into...

Senior linebacker Shannon Walsh (38) is Vista Murrieta's leading tackler this season.

Vista Murrieta High School football heads into this weekend for its sixth straight CIF Southern Section division championship appearance. When a team like this is dominant for so long, it's not by accident. It takes key players to lead the way.

One such player is three-year letterman and outside linebacker Shannon Walsh. Standing at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, Walsh is an intimidating force on the field. This season, he leads the Broncos defense in tackles with 99.

"My role is to be a good leader and a good captain and to show people how to do things," said Walsh, whose teams plays Mission Viejo Saturday afternoon in the West Valley Division finals at Angels Stadium. "When I make plays, they make plays too, so they feed off my energy."

The Broncos defense has stepped up in the playoffs when it counts. In the last two playoff games, the defense has allowed only 3 points overall in the second half. Walsh attributes the defense's success to Coach Coley Candaele.

"Coach gives us great speeches at halftime," Walsh said of Candaele. "He pushes us and motivates us to make us do well in the second half, so we can continue in the playoffs."

Even with how great the Broncos have played, it's hard to foresee a team making it to a sixth championship appearance in a row. When asked if it was a shock to make it back into the championship game, Walsh responded with a big smile.

"It was a surprise to everybody, including the coaches," he said. "They were surprised we made it this far. We've been beating everybody so far, so hopefully we come out with a win.

"It's going to feel like a college game. The main thing is for my team to remain calm, don't look at the big things, and play our game that we went there to play. We came here to win."

Candaele echoed his linebacker's sentiments.

"What got you there, will keep you there," he said. "Keep on doing what you been doing and don't do anything different. The biggest mistake people do is try to play a perfect game and do things they haven't done all year."

No matter what the income of the game, Walsh's high school football career is coming to a close. Reports have circulated that he has powerhouse colleges such as Arizona, Boise State, and Colorado interested in his abilities.

"I plan on trying to get a four-year scholarship, but if that doesn't work out, I plan on going to a junior college like RCC, play there, and get a D-1 scholarship," Walsh said about his future in football.

With a successful season so far, Walsh wanted to inspire his team with a lasting message.

"I'm proud of my team and how good they've been doing," he said. "They've been working hard."

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